Category Archive: 5) Global Macro

Emerging Market Preview: Week Ahead

EM FX was mostly firmer last week, but ended on a mixed note Friday. Best performers on the week for COP, MXN, and BRL while the worst were ARS, PHP, and CNY. We continue to warn investors against blindly buying into this broad-based EM rally, as we believe divergences will once again assert themselves in the coming weeks.

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The Great Risk of So Many Dinosaurs

The Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (TBAC) was established a long time ago in the maelstrom of World War II budgetary as well as wartime conflagration. That made sense. To fight all over the world, the government required creative help in figuring out how to sell an amount of bonds it hadn’t needed (in proportional terms) since the Civil War. A twenty-person committee made up of money dealer bank professionals and leaders was one of the few...

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Emerging Markets: What Changed

Tensions on the Korean peninsula appear to be easing. Relations between Pakistan and the US have worsened. The Philippine central bank is tilting more hawkish. The ANC may consider removing Zuma from the presidency at the January 10 meeting of its National Executive Committee. Turkish banker Atilla was convicted of helping Iran evade US financial sanctions.

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Why the Financial System Will Break: You Can’t “Normalize” Markets that Depend on Extreme Monetary Stimulus

Central banks are now trapped. In a nutshell, central banks are promising to "normalize" their monetary policy extremes in 2018. Nice, but there's a problem: you can't "normalize" markets that are now entirely dependent on extremes of monetary stimulus. Attempts to "normalize" will break the markets and the financial system. Let's start with the core dynamic of the global economy and nosebleed-valuation markets: credit.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor the allocation to bonds is 50%, risk assets 45% and cash 5%. The extreme overbought condition of the US stock market persists so I will continue to hold a modest amount of cash. There are some minor changes within the portfolios but the overall allocation is unchanged.

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Industrial production: The Chinese Appear To Be Rushed

While the Western world was off for Christmas and New Year’s, the Chinese appeared to have taken advantage of what was a pretty clear buildup of “dollars” in Hong Kong. Going back to early November, HKD had resumed its downward trend indicative of (strained) funding moving again in that direction (if it was more normal funding, HKD wouldn’t move let alone as much as it has). China’s currency, however, was curiously restrained during that...

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Housing Market Accelerates

The economy ended 2017 with current growth just slightly above trend. In general the reports of the last two weeks of the year were pretty good with housing a standout performer going into the new year. We are still trying to get past the impact – positive and negative – from the hurricanes a few months ago though so it is probably prudent to wait for more evidence before making any definitive pronouncements about the economy.

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The Hidden-in-Plain-Sight Mechanism of the Super-Wealthy: Money-Laundering 2.0

Financial and political power are two sides of one coin. We all know the rich are getting richer, and the super-rich are getting super-richer. This reality is illustrated in the chart of income gains, the vast majority of which have flowed to the top .01%--not the top 1%, or the top .1% -- to the very tippy top of the wealth-power pyramid.

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“Wealth Effect” = Widening Wealth Inequality

Note that widening wealth and income inequality is a non-partisan trend. One of the core goals of the Federal Reserve's monetary policies of the past 9 years is to generate the "wealth effect": by pushing the valuations of stocks and bonds higher, American households will feel wealthier, and hence be more willing to borrow and spend, even if they didn't actually reap any gains by selling stocks and bonds that gained value.

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The BoJ is sticking to monetary easing

The BoJ remains the last major central bank still firmly committed to large-scale monetary easing.After its Monetary Policy Meeting of December 21, the Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced its intention to keep its current monetary easing programme intact. The BOJ will continue with its “Quantitative and Qualitative Monetary Easing with Yield Curve Control ”, aiming to achieve and overshoot the core inflation target of 2%.

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Global macro: 10 surprises for 2018

Having laid down our expectations for the World economy in 2018, in this note we describe a number of potential surprises to the outlook. The usual suspects, or ‘known unknowns’, include a larger-than-expected fiscal boost from US tax cuts, (geo-)political risks, economic policy mistakes, inflation surprises, a financial bubble burst, or a Minsky moment in China, to name a few.

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Chinese demand leads the Swiss watch industry’s recovery

The most important driver of the Swiss watch industry’s recovery has been the revival of the mainland China market. After years of impressive growth, the Swiss watch industry faced difficult conditions in 2015 and 2016, when exports declined by 3.2% and 9.9% respectively in value terms.

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Christmas 2017: Why I’m Hopeful

A more human world lies just beyond the edge of the Status Quo. Readers often ask me to post something hopeful, and I understand why: doom-and-gloom gets tiresome. Human beings need hope just as they need oxygen, and the destruction of the Status Quo via over-reach and internal contradictions doesn't leave much to be happy about.

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Santa’s Stock Market Rally: Tears of Joy, Or Just Tears?

Judging by this year's version of Santa Claus's reliable year-end stock market rally, risk has vanished, not just in stocks but in bonds, junk bonds, housing, commercial real estate, collectible art--just about the entire spectrum of tradable assets (with precious metals and agricultural commodities among the few receiving coals rather than rallies).

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US to overtake Switzerland in WEF competitiveness survey?

The US is about to enact significant corporate tax cuts, and could therefore edge closer to the number 1 spot in the World Economic Forum’s ranking – currently held by Switzerland. The US is about to enact significant corporate tax cuts, that will see the federal statutory corporate tax rate drop to 21%, from 35%, starting in January (see our latest note ‘US tax cuts update – 19 December 2017’).

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US tax bill looks set to pass

The tax bill continues to make its way through Congress at a swift pace, and now looks increasingly likely to be enacted into law this week, after clearing the conference committee hurdle (a compromise between the House and Senate versions). A few hesitating Republican Senators have eventually said they will vote in favour of the bill, which is key as the Republican majority in the Senate is slim at 52-48. It will shrink to 51-49 in January after...

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Federal Council adopts measures to tackle high prices in Switzerland

On 20 December the Federal Council decided to unilaterally remove tariffs on imported industrial goods. Tariffs will also be reduced on selected agricultural goods not produced in Switzerland. Furthermore, the government wants to apply the Cassis de Dijon principle more widely by reducing the number of exceptions to it. These measures should lead to considerable savings of around CHF 900 million for businesses and consumers. Previously, on 8...

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The Economy Likes Its IP Less Lumpy

Industrial Production rose 3.4% year-over-year in November 2017, the highest growth rate in exactly three years. The increase was boosted by the aftermath of Harvey and Irma, leaving more doubt than optimism for where US industry is in 2017. For one thing, of that 3.4% growth rate, more than two-thirds was attributable to just two months.

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Chinese Are Not Tightening, Though They Would Be Thrilled If You Thought That

The PBOC has two seemingly competing objectives that in reality are one and the same. Overnight, China’s central bank raised two of its money rates. The rate it charges mostly the biggest banks for access to the Medium-term Lending Facility (MLF) was increased by 5 bps to 3.25%. In addition, its reverse repo interest settings were also moved up by 5 bps each at the various tenors (to 2.50% for the 7-day, 2.80% for the 28-day).

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Retail Sales Bounce (Way) Too Much

Retail sales had a good month of November, or at least what counts as decent over the last five and a half years. Total retail sales (unadjusted) rose 6.35% last month, up from 4.9% (revised higher) in October. It was the highest rate of growth since the 29-day month of February 2016. For retailers, what matters is that it comes at the start of the Christmas shopping season.

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